Prime Day Upstages – And Could Shape – The Holiday Shopping Season

Amazon has become a true force in the U.S. economy. For quick proof, you need not look further than these stats:

  • Each month, nearly 200 million people visit Amazon.com
  • Their sales make up nearly 50% of retail ecommerce sales in the U.S.
  • Nearly 1/3 of the U.S. population are Amazon Prime Members

When those 200 million people aren’t visiting amazon.com, they’re still interacting with Amazon products and services. Food is a great example. A consumer could scan through Amazon’s streaming service looking for new cooking shows. Mid-episode, they’ll ask Alexa what ingredients make up the recipe they’re watching. Then, they’ll head to the nearest Whole Foods to purchase said ingredients. At every step, they’re engaging with Amazon.

They’ve redefined the consumer landscape in more ways than one. Their most recent Prime Day saw a 71% uptick in sales ($7.16 Billion) compared to year prior. Granted, this increase was inflated due to Prime Day being extended, but Amazon still drove 29% more sales per hour in 2019 versus 2018*.

Amazon also sold over 175 million products – which put the two-day event ahead of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. The focus has historically been on bigger ticket electronic goods along with Amazon’s own high priority products. 2019 was no different, with the top-selling deals being Echo smart device and Fire TV device-related.

Prime members bought pretty much everything at astounding levels. Over 48 hours they tallied:

  • 100k laptops
  • 200k TVs
  • 300k headphone sets
  • 400k pet products
  • 1MM+ toys

Their competitors didn’t sleep on the event either. Knowing not everything on Amazon would be discounted – and that consumers would be in a buying mood – many took advantage of the day to promote their own sales and competitive pricing. Even though 1/3 of the nation falls within the Prime member bucket, that still leaves a very healthy 2/3 of the U.S. population looking for deals elsewhere.

Walmart had thousands of rollbacks and special buys in a week-long event titled The Big Save event. Target had its version –Deal Days – offering discounts over the same period as Prime. Both retailers made these promotions available to all consumers (no membership required) and bolstered their offering with their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities. Even eBay got in on the fun, launching a Crash Sale that would take effect if Amazon’s site went down – making light of a possible repeat of the issues that plagued Amazon’s 2018 event.

Speaking of repeats, Prime Day has become a certified yearly event. The next iteration can be penciled in for mid-July 2020. Brands will need to start planning from a deal/inclusion standpoint very shortly. Consumers can expect an even longer event next year – seeing as that’s been the trend. Possibly an additional 12 hours, or even a third day.

Competitors need to be ready as well. It’s one thing to respond to a successful venture by a competitor, it’s another to counter with your own revenue-focused approach. Piggybacking off Amazon during Prime Day is fine, but these retailers need to carve their own path in order to shift the consumer mindset.

Ultimately, Prime Day could very well be an indicator for what’s to come on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the remainder of the holiday shopping season. The clutter and competition should be even more chaotic since this period is a more traditionally established tentpole, but don’t be surprised to see the same e-commerce titans bubble up towards the top. It’ll take clever marketing, promotions and differentiation from competitors to conquer consumers’ wallets. Prime Day, and the surrounding hullabaloo, laid the ground work for what we could see in the upcoming holidays.

Target and Walmart are big enough to create their own full-scale sale events. They both offer omnichannel fulfillment. They both have burgeoning digital media offerings that can use their limitless stockpiles of consumer data to drive highly tailored, time-sensitive offers. And as noted, they have about 2/3 of the U.S. population ready and willing to participate. They just need them to fall in line.

*Empower saw similar success across clients using Amazon Advertising Console during Prime Day. Clients drove upwards of 250% improved revenue and nearly 30% improved ROAS within their Amazon Ads campaigns compared to prior period.

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